On the Job with J-School Graduates
On the Job blog features the new careers and advice from recent graduates of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. If you would like to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saints beat reporter for Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate
Everyone has their dream assignments. For some, it’s the Masters, the Olympics or the World Series. For me? That’s the Super Bowl and the College Football Playoff’s National Championship game. I fortunately have already done the latter, covering LSU’s win over Clemson in January of 2020, but the Super Bowl had evaded me.
I was in the contingency plans to cover what would have been a Saints-Chiefs Super Bowl for Super Bowl LIII, had the NOLA No-Call not happened and New England not beaten Kansas City in overtime. And then I was on rotation for Super Bowl LV last year between the Buccaneers and the Chiefs, but the NFL greatly reduced the number of credentials for the game because of COVID-19. So, third time’s the charm, right?
Even though I cover the New Orleans Saints for the Times-Picayune, there’s still plenty to cover. Between all the Saints making appearances on Radio Row and all of the LSU players who suited up for both teams (three for the Bengals, two for the Rams), I had my hands full. I ended up writing 28 stories, four of which were features, during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. It was absolutely exhausting but fulfilling at the same time.
I'm not going to lie, one of the coolest things was being present for the halftime show. I felt like I was reliving some of my childhood memories along with 70,000 of my closest friends. Seeing old friends and making new ones was icing on top as well.
It’s hard to believe that the 2021 NFL season is over, but it’s a welcomed break. For me, the 2021 season was a roller coaster and the most challenging of my career.
On top of the continued COVID restrictions placed on media, we spent the first month of the season ping-ponging between hotels in the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of Hurricane Ida. That entire experience alone deserves at least 500 words, considering I also had a brief stint with COVID during that ordeal. To paraphrase Sean Payton, that part of the season didn’t feel like part of this season, considering we had plenty of other story lines to follow before and after we got back to New Orleans: suspensions for a couple players, injuries to what felt like half the starters, several games affected by COVID, including one that had 22 players out, a five-game losing streak, still being in the hunt for the playoffs in Week 18. It was a lot. Never a dull moment covering the Saints.
The Saints have been a pillar of stability in the NFL for the last 16 years, but in my three seasons covering the team, I’ve been witness to two foundation-shifting changes — Drew Brees retiring ahead of the 2021 season and Sean Payton stepping away after the 2021 season.
The next chapter for them has yet to be written, and I’m excited to see it unfold.
Amie Just graduated in 2018.
Business of Law Reporter for Law.com's Daily Report
Degree and graduation year and degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Mass Communications, News and Informations Emphasis, 2021
Biography: For the past six years, I’ve focused my attention on covering elite high school and college basketball, while telling some very compelling stories in large part due to my guidance at the University of Kansas. Since graduating, I’ve been given the opportunity to branch out and explore a field I haven’t explored before, the business of law. While I will still be doing sports reporting on the side, my full-time job entails covering law firm movement in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, interviewing firm partners, trend leaders and other notable shareholders. My passion has always been to tell the human story, and this opportunity gives me that chance.
Job Title: Business of Law Reporter for Law.com’s Daily Report in Atlanta, Georgia.
How did you get your current job? After graduating, one of my fraternity brothers with Zeta Beta Tau introduced me to his uncle, Jonathan Ringel, who spent the last two decades with the Daily Report. He introduced me to the opening for an Atlanta-based Business of Law Reporter and despite my experience being primarily in sports, I jumped on the opportunity to learn a new field.
Explain what you do in your job and what do you like best about it: I’m working for ALM, a great media company with numerous opportunities. In my job, I am reporting on law firm movement in the Atlanta and Georgia area, talking with lawyers, partners and firm leaders to report on the movement in the area. I’ve already met so many great and welcoming people, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by a group of hard-working individuals with the desire to tell great stories.
How did the J-School prepare you for the workforce? The J-School challenged me to work on projects outside of my comfort zone. Coming into college, I was dead set on covering basketball and basketball only. However, after working with some great and motivating professors, I gained experience in broadcast, print, law reporting, sports reporting, business reporting and an array of other opportunities. The J-School prepared me well to adapt to situations in which I may not have the most expertise.
What career advice do you have for journalism students? Have fun and work hard. Enjoy the times when you’re not working as they will give you experiences that can help you tell great stories. But when you are working, give it everything you have. Make sure you’re the first one up and the last one to leave. Outwork the person next to you while keeping a fun, positive attitude doing it. Also, read the Daily Report and ZagsBlog. College is a time to make mistakes, so try everything and don’t be afraid to fail.
Social Media Programming Fellow for SB Nation
Degree and graduation year: Master of Science in Digital Content Strategy and a Certificate in Business. I graduated in 2017.
Bio: I'm originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and attended KU for my master's in journalism. Initially, I thought I would go into sports broadcasting, but after a broadcast internship at CNN in 2017, I realized that a career in front of the camera wasn't what I wanted, at least not then. Having learned everything that I did in the J-School about digital content and the strategy necessary to succeed in that field, I went the marketing route. I learned a lot during my time in that field. Marketing, specifically on the social and digital side, allowed me to get the necessary reps needed to build a portfolio and a resume that would later position me to get the job I have today. Ultimately, my career has not been a straight line. If it were, I would be doing sports broadcasting. Fortunately, I have had experiences along the way that have prepared me for even better opportunities to work for a company I enjoy while using the skills I learned from my degree.
Job title: Social Media Programming Fellow for SB Nation (I also do social media management on the side for several small businesses.)
How did you get your current job? I searched the Vox Media job board to find my current job. Ultimately, it was just good timing. I searched during the three-week window they were accepting fellowship applications for their first-ever fellowship program. I have always loved Vox Media journalism, and at the time, I was looking for a way to get my foot in the door.
What do you do in your job and what do you like best about it? I wear many hats at my job, from helping my team run our various national social media accounts to living programming (which means I watch live sporting events and program social media content around those events). I also write about various sporting events and topics. What I love most about my job is that I get a chance to do a bit of everything. I love writing, and I can jump in and write a post on a current sports event and then switch to running our company's social pages and promoting various blogs from across our network. Things are never dull. To add, I love how flexible my job is. Some days I work 9a-5p, other days I work 5p-1a. It all depends on what's going on. Often I cover live sporting events at night, and to think I get paid to watch sports is truly a dream come true.
How did the J-School prepare you for the workforce? The J-School gave me a solid foundation and knowledge of preparing content calendars, using social media to grow brand followings, and running successful accounts. Ultimately, that's a lot of what I do today, and I'm so glad to know that I get a chance to use what I learned from my degree daily. Social media management and coming up with an effective content strategy isn't as simple as people make it out to be. The J-School gave me a solid foundation in this, and I'm so thankful.
What career advice do you have for journalism students? If you feel that you're not qualified for the job you want or that it doesn't exist, start working on it anyway. For example, if you want to tell stories about women in sports, but your dream company isn't hiring you to do it just yet, begin telling those stories in your free time. Find the people, conduct the interviews, post the videos, and put the stories you're doing out for others to see. This not only helps you build a portfolio, but it makes it way more likely for companies to give you an opportunity even if you don't have the necessary work experience with a major brand. By doing it yourself, you're showing them that you're driven and capable. All in all, don't wait for the opportunity to come to you. Create, and when the opportunity finally presents itself, you will be more than ready.
Learn more about the J-School's online master's degree in digital content strategy.
Associate producer at Kast Media
Graduation year: 2019
Biography: My name is Kate Mays. I grew up in Lenexa, Kansas, and currently live in Los Angeles, California. I graduated with a B.S.J. in News and Information and a B.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Strategic Communication students might know my mom, Nancy Mays, who teaches Campaigns and other classes.
How did you get your current job? After graduating, I decided Los Angeles was the best place to pursue my dream of working in podcasting. I took the plunge and moved here with no job prospects. For the next year, I worked freelance taking any job in audio I could get. I spent hundreds of hours transcribing interviews, assisted in editing and producing, and most importantly made connections. After gaining enough experience, I was able to land my dream job as associate producer at Kast Media working on The Opportunist podcast (available wherever you listen to podcasts).
What you do in your job and what do you like best about it? As associate producer, I have many different responsibilities and every day is different. I track down potential interviewees, find the best audio clips, help direct voiceover sessions, edit scripts, and lots and lots of research. The Opportunist is a true crime narrative podcast that tells long-form stories of regular people being opportunistic. My favorite part of working on it is the investigative reporting. I love going through archived documents, putting together the pieces of people’s lives, and finding information that wasn’t meant to be found.
How did the J-School prepare you for the workforce? I attribute my research skills to the J-School. I learned about finding reputable sources. A big part of my job is pre-interviewing potential guests, which is something I wouldn’t be able to do without the J-School.
What career advice do you have for journalism students? Network! Networking is one of my least favorite things in the world, but it helped get me to where I am today. Alumni love to help recent grads, especially transplants. Don’t compare yourself to people you graduated with. It can be so discouraging to see your peers landing great jobs right after graduation. Accept that that doesn’t happen to everyone and that’s OK! You’ll get your dream job eventually. In the meantime, say yes to every opportunity, even if it doesn’t line up exactly with your long-term plan.
Senior Commerce Strategist, VMLY&R
Graduation year: 2016
Brief bio: Logan was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. Her parents both attended the University of Kansas, where her father took the path of entrepreneurship and mother a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. With that, in addition to investing in her education, Logan spent a lot of her upbringing on an airplane. She has lived in Brooklyn, New York, for over four years now, working at the global brand and customer experience agency, VMLY&R. VMLY&R is part of WPP, the biggest marketing and communications firm in the world.
How did you get your current job? It all started amid my pursuit of the AAFKC scholarship in which the interview happened to take place at the original VML Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Though intending to just land the scholarship, that interview opened doors to the rest of my career to this day. I kicked off the interview with a silly story about me ironically having been in the agency before as a young girl for a foot modeling gig in Vault (the agency’s production department); I mentioned remembering my admiration of the working environment and overall energy in the space.
During the interview, I also spoke a lot about my experience within the J-School, as well as my upcoming endeavor to work abroad in Dublin, Ireland, at a local media company. It was happenstance that VML’s Global CEO, Jon Cook, was sitting at the opposite end of the table and generously reached out to me post-interview asking that I’d keep VML in mind for future work opportunities. I capitalized on that meaningful connection and was persistent with staying in touch; I was eventually offered a fall internship in Kansas City, as I was attending my final year of college.
Having always desired to be a city dweller, this ultimately led me to an inter-company transfer to New York, where I started as a key support member on what was then a small retail and commerce team within the agency. The department has seen exponential growth since then, to what is now WPP’s global creative commerce agency, VMLY&R COMMERCE. I have now progressed as a senior commerce strategist, where I focus on both identifying commerce-driven growth opportunities and building existing client relationships within the agency.
What do you like best about your job? I feel that as the agency has grown and evolved, my role has evolved with it, which has been exciting to see take shape. The company culture at VMLY&R is unparalleled; from its people to its entrepreneurial opportunities to the industry-breaking work collective teams produce. I am truly never bored, as every day is different. Not least, I’ve had the opportunity to work across a myriad of verticals and for some of the world’s largest brands. At the moment, my key client focus is New Balance, which is an extraordinary match for my personality, and a company I admire.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I was the KU Ad Club president during my junior year of college, which was hugely advantageous in terms of gaining proper experience to make my way into the real world. Through this, my professional skills improved, and importantly, I made key connections within the industry and New York at whole. Challenging – yet not required – courses like Presentation Skills: Stand and Deliver, Honors courses, etc., were also central to my professional development.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Put yourself out there! Getting involved and staying connected are fundamental in college in order to not only work out what you want to do, but also meet the right people to help you get there. People are your biggest asset. Also, do not feel as if you need cookie-cutter experience when you are interviewing for a particular role or opportunity – skills can be learned; embrace who you are and use that to your advantage. Be a sponge; always stay curious and keep learning!
Cloud Generation Specialist, Pax8
Graduation year: 2019
Biography: My name is Caroline Appleby and I am from Minnesota, but I chose to come to KU and it was the best decision of my life. I just graduated from the J-School with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a concentration in News and Information. I followed my dream of moving to Denver, Colorado and landed a job in the Denver Tech Center.
What do you do in your job? My current job is at Pax8 in Greenwood Village Colorado in the Denver Tech Center and I am a Cloud Generation Specialist. I work for a cloud solution distributor that works with over 30 different vendors and we target small to mid-size businesses and help them get into the cloud space. I am working on the sales team making relationships with many of those potential partners.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? My ability to communicate and not be afraid to put myself out there was a huge thing for me starting a new job. Being a news focus, you are forced to step outside of your comfort zone to become better and that helped me jump into a new job. I also made life long relationships with professors that helped me throughout the job search process. I think a big thing the J-School focused on was that no matter what you do, do it with all your heart and I found that when you find that passion and fire, it makes it a whole lot easier to do that. I am thankful for the amazing education the J-School gave me. Although I changed my path and went a more business side, my journalism roots helped me get where I am today.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Get involved as soon as you can in both the J-School and campus organizations. This made a huge difference in being a well-rounded candidate and it highlighted some of my skills. Also, don't be afraid to talk with professors. They know the field and want to see you succeed. They’re willing to help in any way they can. Wear your Jayhawk pride proud–you never know when someone you are interviewing with is also a Jayhawk. (It happened to me with my Pax8 interview!) Rock Chalk and forever a J-School Jayhawk!
Account Executive, Hillsboro Hops
Graduation year: 2017
Biography: My name is Hallie and I am a 2017 J-School graduate. I grew up in Sammamish, Washington and now live in Portland, Oregon. I chose KU because I fell in love with Lawrence and for my love of college basketball. My love of sports is what eventually led me to my career today. Outside of work, I enjoy trying new restaurants, hiking and going to concerts.
How did you get your current job? I’m an account executive for the Hillsboro Hops baseball team, a Single-A Short Season affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. I grew up around baseball and always wanted to work in it in some capacity, but I wasn’t able to land anything in the industry after graduation. After working for a year at Pennington & Company in Lawrence, Kansas, I took a job with a collegiate summer league team in Rochester, New York. My experience there as an assistant general manager is what led me to pursue jobs in Minor League Baseball. I researched teams in areas that I could see myself moving to and contacted general managers. I had one strong ally in the Northwest League who was an advocate for me and helped connect me with different teams!
What do you like best about your job? As a Single-A Short Season team, the best part about working at this level is the opportunity to have your hands in every aspect of the organization. Our front office staff is only about 15 employees, and so while my main and first focus as an account executive is ticket sales, I have other responsibilities as well. As an account executive, I am responsible for prospecting and landing new business clients for group outings, hospitality events or ticket packages. In addition to sales, I work in the ticketing office—organizing will call tickets for each game day—and help plan promotion nights during the season. Day-to-day, I do mostly out-bound sales. I work with clients via email, by appointment or over the phone. What I like most about my job is the variety of tasks that are included in my role. Selling is my priority, but unlike larger sports organizations, my role isn’t nearly as specialized—I have the freedom to do work outside of sales.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me for the workforce by providing me with a variety of courses within the Strategic Communications track. I feel like I know basic elements of design, research and data gathering tactics, to the structure and roles of an account management team. Being able to apply my knowledge in a variety of areas shows the versatility of the Strategic Communications emphasis.
What advice would you give to journalism students? No opportunity is a wasted opportunity. Take initiative, get involved and work hard.
Associate Account Executive, The Marketing Store
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: Vanessa Gonzales is a new Chicago resident, working at The Marketing Store’s retail experience team for McDonald’s. Her previous advertising experience included account internships with Sullivan Higdon & Sink and Bernstein-Rein.
How did you get your current job? I worked enough internships and class projects to give me the right kind of experience matched with lots of networking and internet-stalking (reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn). In addition, my exposure to McDonald's during my internship at Bernstein-Rein was a unique advantage in my interview.
What do you like best about your job? I work on the retail experience team for McDonald's as an Associate Account Executive. I manage and build relationships with our clients, while leading creative teams to execute the right kind of messaging along the customer journey at McDonald’s. One day might include a tasting and photo shoot for a new menu item, and another day might be preparing for a client presentation.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? Working on group projects so heavily during my four years really prepared me for the tight timelines and the hustle and bustle of my career. In addition, building a strong foundation in writing and research was crucial as I continue to develop as a thinker and communicator when problem solving each day.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Never settle and keep pushing for new opportunities or ways to capitalize on current ones. Take advantage of office hours and asking for feedback. When networking or going to office hours, come prepared and have a goal in mind. And most importantly, be clear in what you want when talking to people who can help get you to where you want. I think it's great to have certain mentors where you tell them you have no idea what you're doing (thanks, Dr. Chen!) and key people in your network where you are clearer with your goals.
Community Reporter, Kansas City PBS
Graduation year: 2016
Biography: Vicky is a journalist born in Los Angeles and raised in El Paso, Texas, who is now based in Kansas City. She's dedicated to telling stories about culture, art and music. That interest sprouted from a fascination in listening to her grandfather's stories, specifically of fitting in, struggle and victory, and from poverty to the American dream. Her work has been featured in local, national and international news and arts publications such as NPR, KCUR, KNEON Magazine and Houzz. She focuses on cultural dialogue and its impact on art, design, music and policy. She is a trained copy editor and multimedia reporter. Her work has been used in multiple platforms and includes radio features, data blitzes, newscasts, breaking news online and in print. She's the community reporter at Kansas City's PBS magazine, Flatland. There she leads curiousKC, a community-powered reporting effort that invites Kansas Citians to ask questions and investigate with the journalist. Before that, she was the data journalist/research director at the Kansas City Business Journal, where she wrangled data to produce informative business coverage on topics ranging from minority homeownership to Kansas City barbecue.
How did you get your current job? Patience and persistence. I had applied several times for other positions at Kansas City PBS that didn't align with my skills. Then I saw the opening for a community reporter and knew it was a potential fit. I'd already worked a few jobs in the journalism field that fit like oversized shoes and one that fit perfectly – that one was in public media. I'm grateful to the Kansas City PBS editor who met with me before the official interview. He believed in my work and helped make the case that I should be their community reporter.
What do you like best about your job? In a nutshell, I connect with people, listen to them and report on issues they care about. I manage a publicly led question-and-answer effort Kansas City PBS calls curiousKC. I do lots of public engagement, active listening and keep my finger on the pulse of current events and local conversations. I'm on a quest to find what people – all voices – care about. I do meaningful local journalism. This job fits the public media mission I hold so dear, which is to create, communicate and curate content that "educates, inspires and entertains."
My particular role flips journalism on its head and lets the audience and readers weigh in or fill in the blank. In effect, we work with the public to gain a better understanding of what they wonder or worry about. Some days I dig through government records or library archives, other days I'm interviewing research experts and booking interviews. My job is fueled by and made possible by the creative minds here in the newsroom. We get to make sense of information a number of different ways: data visualizations, videos, radio segments, historical timelines and the traditional article. At the end of the day, I get to produce informative pieces for the public knowledge, providing a service that not only engages but also edifies.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I give credit to the professors who believed in me and challenged me. There's a colloquial word in Spanish that explains the kind of person I am: trucha. Looslely translated, that means "vigilant." But I can also be shy, so being in a new town at a new school in 2013 was difficult. All I needed was that spark. Shout out to Lisa McLendon, copy editing professor extraordinaire, who showed how I could channel my meticulous nature into a profession. A huge thanks to Pam Fine, who made me feel heard and valued and who pushed back and challenged me to do better work. My advisers (miss you Kevin and Kelli!) were also crucial to my development. When I doubted, they encouraged. They made sure to help me find support, even financial support through scholarships. And my first job when I moved to Lawrence was for the J-School career center, so I have to give it credit there because seeing the list of opportunities gave me hope.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Journalism takes heart and you have it. Yes, you will feel drained, and at times, second guess what you're doing. You are not alone. Also, I must add a plug for self-care; it is so important. Take a mental health day after a long news cycle because what we do can be emotionally difficult. Take pride in the work you do – whether it is music journalism or breaking news. You're making a difference and shedding light on something perhaps others may not have. When you feel like you're drowned out or tired, recall the moments when you made a difference through your work. Think about 1 a.m. pizza or doughnuts in the newsroom, laugh-crying at how long production takes surrounded by dedicated, like-minded people. It wouldn't be the same without them, right? Your voice is unique because of your personal story and passion – and this is what makes this profession so special. Make new friends – people unlike you, people with different backgrounds – and take the time to simply listen. Ask for help. When you practice that in life, you'll do better at your job. Finally, remember to support fellow journalists along the way because we maximize our impact when we work together. Pa'lante, mi gente.
Owner, Drone Lawrence & Social Media Coordinator, Southwind
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I’m a fourth-generation Jayhawk from the great town of Atchison, Kansas. I’m extremely grateful that I knew I wanted to attend the University of Kansas at such a young age because it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Growing up, I loved to write. I remember writing short stories in elementary and middle school, and feeling like it was the start of my creative journey, even though I didn't exactly know what that meant yet. Throughout high school, I was always enthralled with the world of social media and crafting my online presence. The first opportunity I had to work in the field of social media was running the accounts of my high school, Maur Hill-Mount Academy. While my only responsibilities were to update our followers on scores from sporting events, I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by social media in a professional setting during or after college. My junior year of college, I was hired as the social media editor for the University Daily Kansan, which was an experience I’ll forever be grateful for. It was at the UDK where I came up with the idea for Drone Lawrence, which originally started out as a creative outlet for my main passions of flying drones and editing. I never expected it to turn into a business, but luckily, I still love droning and see it as a hobby. I have multiple clients in the Lawrence area, and I’m continuing to grow the Drone Lawrence name. Thanks to this, I was able to land a social media coordinator position at Southwind in Lenexa, Kansas, in which I’ve been at since January.
How did you get your current job? As far as Drone Lawrence goes, I created the business so it wasn’t too hard to get the job. But I got my job at Southwind through my online presence and past creative work. If I never created Drone Lawrence, I don’t think I would be in the position I am today at Southwind.
What do you like best about your job? My work at Drone Lawrence mainly consists of meeting with clients, understanding their vision and then capturing the best possible shots for them. The editing process is the most fun for me, where I can take the aerial footage and make it stand out on social media. My work at Southwind consists of managing seven different 1-800-Got-Junk franchises social media accounts, as well as You Move Me Kansas City. What I love most about both of my jobs is the creative freedom I have. While there are certain guidelines that might need to be followed per request by the client, I always feel that I work best when I can create something in my own style. I am lucky to have found a job so early in life where I feel like my work is important.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in ways that I didn’t even know until after I graduated. While the school curriculum itself is important for valuable skills in the workforce, the J-School gives you all the tools you need to go out there and do it yourself. The capstone campaigns class is a great example of this, as it combines everything you’ve learned the previous four years and throws you into a real-life situation with a real-life client. The J-School and college, in general, can provide you with many different tools in order to succeed in the workforce, but what really matters is how you use those tools and build upon them.
What advice would you give to journalism students? It’s OK to not have everything figured out going into senior year and even right when you graduate. Everyone's path is different. Don’t settle for a job that you can easily get if you’re not doing the work you love. Keep building your portfolio and people will notice!
Public Relations Coordinator, State Fair of Texas
Graduation year: 2017
Biography: I was born in Topeka, Kansas, but moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, when I was 13 years old. I loved Arkansas but decided to branch out and attend the University of Kansas to major in journalism on the strategic communication track and minor in business. As the first Austin to attend college and only knowing a handful of people in my class, I quickly got involved in my sorority, Panhellenic, Student Senate, and as many organizations as I could find time for. My internship senior year with Kansas Athletics was the most instrumental in developing me for my professional career. Working in athletics taught me how to thrive under pressure, be professional and produce a quality product. My superiors challenged me daily and really set me up for success. I definitely thought I’d continue to work in sports, but when I had the opportunity to join the team at the State Fair of Texas, it was a no-brainer. From being a nonprofit, to the entertainment and sports components of my job, it is more than I could have ever dreamed of for my first job.
How did you get your current job? I applied for an internship with the State Fair of Texas, beginning the summer after I graduated. I interviewed via Skype and immediately fell in love with the public relations team. They called me back that day and offered me the internship! As one of seven public relations interns and six media relations coordinators, we were notified shortly after starting that there would be a full-time position opening at the end of the fair season, and we were welcome to apply. I threw my name in the hat, worked hard and learned as much as I could – I was determined to be a front-runner for the job. Come closing weekend of the fair, I was officially offered a job as a public relations coordinator.
What do you like best about your job? The State Fair of Texas is a 24-day exhibition in the heart of Dallas. As one of the biggest fairs in the country and a nonprofit, our mission is to celebrate all things Texan by promoting agriculture education, and community involvement. As a public relations coordinator, I wear a variety of different hats, depending on the season. While we’re constantly writing and editing, we’re also looking for ways to best tell the story of the State Fair of Texas. Year-round, I also manage the Big Tex Scholarship Program – a program that has awarded more than $11.3 million since 1992.
In addition, I have the opportunity to work with local, statewide, national and even international media leading up to and during the State Fair. In my two years with the fair, I’ve worked with Food Network, Travel Channel, ESPN GameDay and other big productions. My favorite part of my job is knowing I’m contributing to an organization that does so much to better the community and help families and friends create memories to last a lifetime. I feel so fortunate knowing I work somewhere that is so deeply rooted in Texas history and tradition. Every day at the fair is a fun day!
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in too many ways to share. At times, coursework in the J-School was challenging and rigorous, but it taught me how to prioritize effectively, think creatively and be a problem solver. The professors were nothing short of amazing. I appreciated how diverse each professor’s background was – it allowed me to learn from the best of the best in a variety of expertises. In addition, it taught me how to interact with different personalities and leadership styles. Oh, and how could I forget, I’m forever indebted to the J-School for hammering AP Style home because I live and breathe by that guide each day at my job.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Take every opportunity you can to learn and grow in your professional career. Throughout college, I had multiple internships and jobs that taught me a variety of skills. I was able to learn what I liked and didn’t like, in addition to what I was really good at. Along the way, I met some of the most incredible people. Working in journalism is all about working with people. Take time to build relationships with your peers, professors, bosses, customers and clients. Remember that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Finally, don’t be afraid to take an internship or something that may not be your “dream job” right after college. You never know where an opportunity may lead you or what other doors it may open for your future.
Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter, KVRR News
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I came to KU via Chicago, knowing it was the right place for me. I was able to get involved with sports production jobs as soon as I stepped on campus like working the football and basketball games. That evolved into something way bigger and I eventually was able to create a brand alongside other fellow alums called "The Playmakers" and cover a variety of sports.
Favorite memory from the J-School? This is really hard to choose from because there is so many. If I had to pick one, I'd go with covering the Final Four my last semester in the J-School. For me, it was the biggest reward I could receive for all the work I put in over my time as a Jayhawk and getting to where I want to be. Getting to be around other sportscasters who I looked up to and had the chance to talk and network with, I was on cloud nine.
How did you get your current job? It didn't come easy. I spent four months sending out my reel to over a hundred different openings before I accepted my position as Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter at KVRR News in Fargo, North Dakota. Looking back, it was my experiences as a Jayhawk that got me here. Professors like Cal Butcher, Max Utsler and Jerry Crawford afforded me opportunities to work with FOX Sports, interview prospects at Royals Training Camo, start my own sports show, anchor sports on KUJH and so many other opportunities I can name. Every opportunity I've had led to my full-time job with MidcoSN in Lawrence my senior year covering KU and high school sports. From there, I was afforded my shot and took it from there.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? Through all the opportunities the J-School allowed me to do. Being thrown into the fire so to say. It was the best way for me to learn; putting myself in the environment I wanted to be in and figure out how I could work effectively with in that. Interviewing coaches, co-hosting soccer and hockey broadcasts, covering NCAA Tournament games for volleyball and basketball–all of them helped me to be more comfortable in the current position I am now, covering two division one programs in North Dakota and at North Dakota State along with many other high schools in the area.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Take advantage of the opportunities. It sounds easy, but if I was not presented with the experiences I had, I would have no idea what I was doing. You can only learn so much in the classroom. It's what you're able to take out of the classroom and put into a real world experience. That's when you know you've learned something.
Content Strategist, KAOH Media
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I am a 2018 J-School graduate working and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a content strategist for KAOH Media, a public relations firm. I started at KU as a news and information journalism student but switched to strategic communications after falling in love with Carol Holstead’s JOUR 300 class and graphic design. In my time at KU, I served as an orientation assistant for the University and was very involved with KJHK, our student-run radio station, where I had some of my greatest learning experiences. I spent my senior year working as the station’s social media director.
How did you get your current job? I had a lot of great real-world experience upon graduation like internships, involvement in student organizations, leadership positions and part-time jobs that helped me build connections and become more “marketable.” I found my current job posting on an online job site and after a few rounds of interviews, I was hired.
What do you like best about your job? On a day-to-day basis, I am busy creating, designing and deploying content for multiple brands. I work up editorial calendars for our clients, place and target ads on social, track the metrics and work on the ad budget. Most of our clients are renewable energy developers around the Midwest. I’ve always been super passionate about the environment and sustainability efforts, so the best part about my job is being excited about the work I’m doing.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? During my senior year, I took full advantage of the J-School tech workshops. In those workshops, I learned about so many helpful apps and tricks that I still use in the real world and have passed on to colleagues. I also have to mention Strategic Campaigns capstone class —without campaigns I honestly don’t think I would have gotten my current job. My campaigns group forced me to be our team’s creative director and during that semester, I learned so much and was able to create an awesome portfolio that impressed my current employer.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Get involved outside of the classroom. A lot of my greatest learning moments happened when I put what I learned in class to action. There are opportunities on and off campus to learn and grow, and they will help set you up for success.
Corporate Partnership Sales and Research Coordinator, Chicago White Sox
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I grew up in Savage, Minnesota, and came to KU on a complete whim. I absolutely found my home in Lawrence. While at KU, I majored in journalism/strategic communication track with a minor in business. I was involved in Greek life, Jayhawks Dream, and the Journalism Student Leadership Board. My favorite KU experiences include basketball games, my study abroad experience, and Strategic Campaigns. Early on in high school, I knew I wanted to be involved in sports business in some capacity. I saw an opportunity through strategic communications to follow that dream. Throughout college I had various internships at marketing agencies and nonprofit organizations helping plan events and learning the ropes of the industry. In my senior year of college, I got a taste of my dream job through an internship with the Kansas City Royals. A yearlong internship with the Royals prepared me for my current role with the Chicago White Sox.
How did you get your current job? In college, I interned for a nonprofit organization planning a half-marathon. Throughout this internship, I was able to gain event planning experience as well as sponsorship experience through securing local sponsors for the race. My experience, along with amazing connections, helped me secure my internship with the Kansas City Royals. My internship with the Royals was what ultimately shaped my professional experience to get my current position in Chicago. A huge goal I had after my internship in Kansas City was to play up the skills I learned there and use connections to stay in professional sports. I was fortunate to have amazing connections from previous positions and the J-School to achieve that goal.
What do you like best about your job? I love that my job is different every day. Sponsorship in sports is kind of like the team’s own advertising agency. My department is broken into two divisions: sales and activation. The sales team pitches the deals to companies, which can include signage, naming rights, community programs, experiences, tickets, etc., and once the contract is signed, the activation team makes sure that everything actually happens. I am fortunate to work with both sides of the department in my role. I utilize key research platforms such as Nielsen services to develop the best sales pitch possible, taking into account a company’s own marketing strategy and how it aligns with the White Sox. I also help the activation team work with the clients to deliver the most effective strategic partnership possible.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in many different ways. I utilize skills I learned in my classes every single day. The two most helpful classes that I took in college for my current position were Research Methods and Strategic Campaigns. The networking sessions over homecoming weekend also really helped me learn how to network and build connections with alumni.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Make connections with your classmates, your professors, and other J-School staff. They are there to help you! There are many opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten in life without making connections with the right people. Find what you’re passionate about and talk to people about it. You never know if someone shares your passion or can connect you to someone in your dream industry. Enjoy every single second because it goes by fast. Good luck!